One from the Heart: Reprise

The most exciting thing about Francis Ford Coppola is that he’s not afraid to take huge filmmaking risks. When those risks work, we end up with The Godfather, The Conversation, and Apocalypse Now. When they don’t, he fails big. Case in point: 1981’s One from the Heart, a picture that went so far over budget and lost so much money at the box office that it nearly put Coppola and his American Zoetrope studio out of business permanently. Over time, the admittedly flawed film has gained a reappraisal in some quarters, with admirers pointing out the grand ambition and gorgeous visuals. That reappraisal is likely to continue with the new 4K UHD release, which brings together the original theatrical cut and Coppola’s “Reprise” cut. This is a must-own disc for the director’s fans.

The story is intentionally simple: Frannie (Teri Garr) and Hank (Frederic Forrest) are lovers living in Las Vegas. After a fight, both stray from the relationship. She starts up a flirtation with pianist/waiter Ray (Raul Julia); he hooks up with circus performer Leila (Nastassja Kinski). Eventually, they realize these dalliances aren’t as satisfying as what they had, leading to a reunion.

Coppola’s style is the thing that sets the movie apart. He had his production team recreate a block of Las Vegas inside a soundstage. Long takes, superimposed images, and bold use of color create a luxurious ambiance that seduces your eyeballs. The effect is that One from the Heart has a dreamlike quality wherein it presents something that looks familiar yet has a surreal vibe. The best scenes take full advantage of that, particularly a lavish musical number set in the middle of a Vegas intersection.

The actors have a difficult challenge, as the screenplay purposefully leaves their characters largely undefined, using original Tom Waits songs on the soundtrack to clue the audience in to their motivations. It’s up to them to bring the personal details they want to the people they’re playing to possess. Some might fault Coppola’s approach on that, saying that without fully formed characters, there’s nothing to care about. Garr and Forrest pull it off, though. They bring an emotional quality to the Frannie/Hank relationship that’s off-kilter enough to beautifully fit in with the visual aesthetic. Julia and Kinski add different flavors to that as their respective flings.

The experience of watching the “Reprise’ cut of One from the Heart is exciting. Coppola jumbles the order of early scenes and excises about ten minutes of footage from the theatrical cut, giving it a new flow. Every scene represents the director taking a creative risk. Several of them pay off. Others fall flat. Regardless, watching a master filmmaker shoot for the moon is satisfying. In an age when major studio movies feel more cookie-cutter than ever, there’s something enthralling about a work that dares to go for broke.

Scroll down for a look at the 4K UHD supplementary materials.

out of four

One from the Heart: Reprise is unrated, but contains strong language and sexual content/nudity. The running time is 1 hour and 33 minutes.

Blu-ray Features:

The 4K Ultra HD release of One from the Heart is absolutely loaded with supplementary material. The first disc contains the “Reprise cut” with optional audio commentary from Coppola.

After that, you’ll find the exquisitely produced bonus features, starting off with three segments that explore the creation of the film. Each running about 20-25 minutes, they focus on the look of One from the Heart, the cast, and the choreography for that amazing musical number. These segments provide detailed, in-depth insight into Coppola’s creative vision for the movie, while also illustrating what a massive undertaking it was to bring that vision to life.

The director of Moulin Rouge! spends half an hour contextualizing Coppola’s film in “Reinventing the Musical: Baz Luhrmann on One from the Heart.” The erudite Luhrmann weighs in on the different types of musicals and how Coppola reinvented and/or evolved them. He comes across as extremely knowledgeable and passionate.

Finally, there’s a comparison of the “Reprise” restoration and the original print. You’ll get great appreciation for how good this new Blu-ray looks.

But that’s not all! A second Blu-ray disc comes with the theatrical cut of the movie, along with a whole other collection of supplementary material, including: a vintage making-of segment, a look at what Coppola tried to achieve with Zoetrope, a piece on the songs Tom Waits wrote for the soundtrack, deleted scenes, videotaped rehearsal footage, a clip of Coppola speaking to theater exhibitors, a press conference for the film, and a theatrical trailer.

The 4K Ultra HD edition of One from the Heart is one of the most impressive releases I’ve seen in a long time. Aside from looking phenomenal, it’s packed with high quality special features that are guaranteed to make you see the movie in a whole new light. To purchase a copy from Amazon, click here.

© 2024 Mike McGranaghan